Native American Society

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The Native American society before the Europeans came to North America was split into 27 different states. Their food sources consisted of corn, potatoes, pumpkin, yams, and lima beans as they were native plants that could be farmed for human consumption. More than half of the modern American farming crops are endemic to North America. Other products the Native Americans used before the colonist came were medicines that were the same as Europe. They also mined materials such as copper, lead, and coal.

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Overall, the life of a Native American before interaction with the Europeans was not too far away from what they lived like afterward, but they also had they’re between tribe to tribe.

The life of Native Americans after the Europeans arrived in North America

When the Europeans arrived in North America they did not realize there were other people there. Neither did they realize the people consisted of many individual cultures. The life of Native Americans changed drastically as they started being pushed off their homeland starting in the Northeast region of the United States. The Europeans started to make settlements -like the first one Plymouth- as more and more Europeans were making their way across the Atlantic Ocean. The Native Americans started being relocated under the Indian Removal Act and were pushed from the East Coast to the West past the Mississippi River. They were also placed in Indian reservations where there was a lack of resources and not enough room for the full population of the tribe. They struggled with the white settlers farming and taking over their land.

The relocation to Indian reservations and lack of respect for their homeland infuriated the Native Americans. They started multiple wars to stop the United States Federal Government. The Federal Government also issued acts in order to modernize Native Americans. They made boarding schools to erase Native American culture. This further worsened the relationship between the Native Americans and the Federal Government.

The Federal Government promised the Native Americans that on the reservations, they would maintain their sovereignty. They were told that the revenue out of their location would come back to them, but this was a lie. The conditions of the Indian reservations were not ideal, as oftentimes they lacked the materials and resources needed to survive. The revenue lie by the United States Federal Government came back to haunt them as the Sioux tribe brought the United States to court to get the money they desired. The total payout of the case came to be 3.4 billion dollars even though they owed the tribes around 137 billion dollars. In the end, the United States -from the time they arrived in North America- pushed around the Native Americans and made empty promises. The Native Americans offered the European settlers too much hospitality, which they took advantage of.

One of the most well known Native Americans is Sitting Bull. He was the chief of the Sioux tribe during their struggles in the Great Plains. He was recognized within his tribe as a man of vision and warrior at an early age. The tensions between the Native Americans and the United States started the Battle of Little Bighorn, in which Sitting Bull fought to defeat the commonly well known George Custer. He was considered a leader as he brought his people across the border into Canada when the United States was forcing Native Americans into Indian reservations. Struggling with the lack of food, he and his people moved back into the United States territory, where they were then placed in reservations. In 1890, Sitting Bull was killed while being arrested by U.S. Indian agents, as they were scared he would help lead the growing Ghost Dance movement, which tried to restore the Sioux way of life. In history, he is being remembered as a man of courage and resistor of white dominance.

Crazy Horse

Another well known Native American was Crazy Horse; he was born in 1840 and was the Oglala Sioux Indian chief. He fought against the removal of a reservation in South Dakota in the Black Hills. Some of his most famous attacks were the attack against General George Crook in collaboration with the Cheyenne, and the joint effort with Chief Sitting Bull in the Battle of Little Bighorn. At the age of 37, Crazy Horse was killed by a group of soldiers as he surrendered.

Lewis and Clark led the expedition to explore unknown US territory, establish trade with the Native Americans, and to establish the influence of the United States in that region. One of the main things they were looking for was to find a waterway from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In order to make their mission easier, they had a Native American woman by the name of Sacagawea help them across the land. She was more familiar with the native land than Lewis and Clark. The expedition lasted from May of 1804 until September of 1806 as they surveyed the land for President Jefferson.

Andrew Jackson was responsible for the exodus of Native Americans out of the Southeast. He brought American soldiers to different tribes in order to move them to the West past the Mississippi River. The Seminoles were the only tribe he had a struggle with, as they refused to leave and would fight for their land. Jackson was not the nicest person to the Native Americans and African Americans as he killed many people by the removal to reservations.

Osceola was the leader for the Seminole tribe as he led the resistance against leaving Florida. A few chiefs in the Florida signed the Treaty of Payne’s Landing, in which they would give up their land in order to get lands west of the Mississippi River in Indian territory. Osceola disagreed with this treaty and continued to fight against efforts to remove the Seminoles from Florida. For five years he led the Seminoles in fighting against the United States soldiers, but he was captured after a truce flag was put out by the Americans. Osceola was recognized as a rebel and a supreme fighter against the United States pushing them West.

George Armstrong Custer was an United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars. General Custer was one of the generals who attacked the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians after they left their reservations to protect their homelands. During the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, he traveled many miles over 3 days and surprise attacked the Native Americans from the east. One of his most famous strategies during a battle was to have a surprise attack against his opponents, but it did not work out for him this time, with his soldiers being tired from the long haul. His defeat was because of the fundamental errors ordered by him and by not letting his men recoup.

The Chief of the Ottawas named Pontiac held the uprising against the British as their relations in one of the Great Lakes areas was failing. His rebellion lasted for five months from 1763 to 1764, in which he gathered support from other Indian tribes to stage an attack on the British forts. The uprising was held at Fort Detroit and was a win and lose for the chief as they were not able to overcome the fort’s structures during the attacks, but were able to obtain a treaty of peace with the British.

One of the first relations with the European settlers was between the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620. The leader of the Wampanoag, Massasoit, established a treaty between the two different groups to help each other in hard situations and remain allies to not attack one another. After Massaiot’s death, his son Philip became the new leader and got a much different respect from the white settlers. In the end, Philip and his people were killed by the Puritans because of an accused murder that actually wasn’t true. I believe this was the start of the conflicts between the new settlers and the Native Americans as it ended with Philip’s head on a stick in the middle of Plymouth.


The most remembered events by the Native Americans was the Trail of Tears, which happened from President Andrew Jackson enforcing the Indian Removal Act. The act gave the federal government the power to relocate the Native Americans from the land on the East in exchange for land West of the Mississippi. The fight against this act was significant in some areas, but they were outnumbered by the United States soldiers coming into their tribes in thousands to send them on their way. The only argument the Native Americans had against the land they were on is that no one actually “owns” the land. This argument was not able to persuade the Federal Government as the Native Americans were forced off the land immediately with no time to prepare for the long journey.

The overall reason President Jackson established the Indian Removal Act was to make room for American expansion. The Trail of Tears –the mass exodus of natives from their homelands– started in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and ended in Oklahoma. At the beginning of the trip, the Cherokee Indians had 15,000 people, and by the end there were only 11,500 Indians who survived. The reason for the high death rate was the lack of resources like food and water, exposure to the cold, and exposure to diseases. I believe the Trail of Tears was one of the most disastrous times for the Native Americans as they had no say against it and they were not prepared for the long hike.

After the Indian Removal Act was established by President Jackson, there was one group of Native Americans who started a rebellion to stay in the land they had lived on for centuries. The Seminole tribe was led by Osceola who disagreed with the fact of being moved to Indian reservations in the West. The war between the United States and the Seminoles first started when they killed over one hundred soldiers coming in to enforce the removal. President Jackson was told about the conflict, and sent over 3,000 American soldiers and volunteers to Florida in order to move the Seminoles off their land. The only problem was that they were unaware of the guerrilla fighting strategy of the Native Americans, which trumped the Americans’ more traditional fighting tactics. The American soldiers also struggled in the swampy conditions in Florida.

Osceola made a great attempt on stopping the removal of his people, but was lied to by a United States commander during one the battles. The commander for the United States raised a white flag, which is a symbol of truce, and when Osceola approached the group of soldiers he was captured and this men were killed or captured as well. The new leader who stepped in was Wildcat, but failed to keep the American soldiers for longer than five months. When Wildcat was finally captured, the Seminole people were packed up on boats and sent to New Orleans for the relocation.

One of the most successful battles for the Native Americans against the United States was the Battle of the Little Bighorn as they aimed to not be placed in Indian reservations. The battle between the 7th Cavalry led by General George Custer and a combined force of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native American led by Chief Sitting Bull took place on June 25th of 1876. The battle was initiated by the Native Americans outraged by the continuous white settlers coming into the sacred lands of the Black Hills. The 7th Cavalry consisted of about 31 officers, 586 soldiers, 30 Indian scouts, and 20 civilian employees. After the smoke was cleared the next morning, there were 262 dead and 68 injured. The fight by the Native Americans was the most successful rebellion as they defeated the three groups of United States soldiers from the East, West, and South. The Native Americans’ freedom did not last too long after the battle as the United States attacked them again, which drove some of the people into reservations, and others across the border into Canada to escape the American lies.

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Native American Society. (2020, Dec 18). Retrieved from